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How the league looks ahead of this weekend’s matches

Last Saturday, Hull RUFC visited last season’s league runners-up Chester RFC and after a tough and bruising game between two well-matched sides they were beaten by 14-5.   Chester took a 19th minute lead with a pushover try from prop Colin Campbell which was converted by Callum Bennett to lead 7-0 at the break. Latu Makaafi scored for Hull in the 52nd minute but Reece Dean saw his conversion attempt hit the upright to bounce wide.  The score remained at 7-5 until the 72nd minute when winger Harrison Vare scored in the left corner which Bennett converted with a fine kick from touch to deny Hull a losing bonus point.  In between the scores Dean was again unlucky when a long-range penalty attempt again struck the upright.

Elsewhere in the division leaders Caldy ran in ten tries against new boys Luctonians, with winger Joe Royle getting four of them, to win by 62-18. Six of the tries were converted to augment a very tough afternoon for the men from Leominster.  Hinckley could not build on their good win at Hull the previous week when they went down 17-14 at Otley. The score was even at 14-14 until Joe Rowntree landed a last minute penalty to steal the game for the Yorkshiremen following a close and tense game.

Huddersfield finally won their first game of the season when they scraped a very narrow 25-24 home win over newly-promoted Scunthorpe. ‘Field led by 15-12 at the break and were losing 24-22 before a penalty by Will Milner in the sixth minute of added time gave his side the win. Both sides scored four tries in what had been a very entertaining and close game. In a very high-scoring game at Dore Moor visitors Loughborough Students won an enthralling game by 40-37. Sheffield Tigers scored four tries but the Students scored six, including a penalty try.  The Students were leading by 40-16 with fifteen minutes remaining but three converted tries from the Tigers in the final seven minutes brought the game to a tense and thrilling finale.

Another very tight and close fixture was played out at Stourbridge where visitors Sedgley Park posted a 28-25 win after trailing 15-14 at the break.  Stourbridge were leading 25-21 up to the 79th minute before a try from Goodman, converted by Collins gave the win to Park. Second-placed Fylde made the journey to the east side of the country to take on Tynedale and with Fylde scoring five tries and Tynedale four, another thrilling game went to Fylde by 34-27.

Finally, yet another cliff-hanger of a game went to the wire when Wharfedale entertained Preston Grasshoppers. Wharfe raced to a 20-3 half-tine lead but the ‘Hoppers hit back to make it 20-19 with 27 minutes left to play.  There was no further scoring for the remaining period of ‘twitchy bum’ time as Wharfe battled to retain their lead, with most of the pressure coming from the ‘Hoppers.

It seems that after some of these very close results that National Two North is no place for the faint-hearted!

This week-end’s fixtures look like producing a few more close calls and one or two not so close games. Second place and unbeaten Fylde are at home to fourth-placed Stourbridge and Hull will have to be at their very best to contain a rampant Caldy side at the Ferens Ground where a newly promoted side take on a newly relegated side who have set a cracking pace at the top by winning all of their five games so far. Luctonians are at home to Loughborough Students and Lucs will be eager to make amends after their hammering at Caldy last week. Otley v Chester sees thirteenth take on fifth and he Yorkshire side will be boosted by their win over Hinckley last week but Chester are a tough side with a big pack.  ‘Hoppers’ v Huddersfield should go the way of the home side but with Huddersfield winning their first game last week they will be full of confidence. Bottom side Scunthorpe have yet to win a game and they will find visitors Tynedale, who won away at Sedgley Park two weeks ago, a bit too hot to handle.  Sedgley Park will fancy their chances against Hinckley in a third v twelfth fixture while the Yorkshire derby between Wharfedale and Sheffield Tigers has all the makings of a cracking game.

My selection of the top three fixtures, according to league standings are Fylde v Stourbridge, Wharfedale v Sheffield Tigers and ‘Hoppers v Huddersfield.

Wherever you are, enjoy your rugby.

Norman Angell

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